By LILY TINOCO | Reporter
Public health officials have expressed that individuals living on the streets are susceptible to contracting coronavirus disease 2019, as they lack access to resources that would help protect them against the outbreak.
As an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19, Mayor Eric Garcetti announced on Wednesday, March 18, that Los Angeles would be converting 42 of its recreation centers into temporary shelters for homeless individuals, including Palisades Recreation Center, located at 851 Alma Real Drive.
The Palisades center is one of five being utilized on the Westside—including the Westwood, Westchester, Oakwood and Cheviot Hills recreation centers.
These sites are designated emergency centers, and neighbors were quick to express their concerns.
Palisadian Michael Kafka questioned if there would be controls in place to prevent individuals from roaming into the community, while others similarly questioned the threat this might pose on their safety and health.
Communications Director for Councilmember Mike Bonin David Graham-Caso told the Palisadian-Post there would not be any exposure to members of the community.
“The recreation center is closed, the Safer at Home order is in place and no members of the community should be visiting the site,” he said.
LAPD Commanding Officer of the West LA Division Captain Jonathan Tom added that two officers will be stationed 24/7 at each temporary shelter, and each location will reportedly have two security guards.
He shared that there haven’t been any issues at the current operating shelters: Westwood and Cheviot Hills.
Individuals identified by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority as vulnerable and most at risk will be given priority. Emergency medical technicians will be assigned to each facility to screen clients upon intake and monitor the health of individuals.
“That being said, anyone staying at the rec center would be pre-screened for COVID-19 prior to moving in, and anyone with symptoms would be quarantined at another site,” Graham-Caso said to the Post.
The recreation centers are expected to provide 6,000 beds. These beds will be spaced more than six feet apart to comply with social distancing guidelines.
Beds, personal hygiene kits and showers will be provided by city departments, while government agencies and nonprofit organizations will provide meals.
Palisades Recreation Center Director Erich Haas said the center had not yet been activated as an emergency shelter as the Post went to print Tuesday evening.
Graham-Caso added that the timing and use of the site is still being determined by the mayor’s office and depends on how they are able to allocate city staff to emergency shelters.
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